Thanks to Bedford/St. Martin’s

These entries, written by Traci Gardner, are copied from TechNotes, a free newsletter for writing teachers from Bedford/St. Martin’s. For information about TechNotes, go to


Friday, December 14 marked the unveiling of another article bashing PowerPoint. This most recent article, from the New York Times, went so far as to blame the application for lulling viewers into accepting incomplete data. It’s but one of a series of articles that have pointed to problems with the program, including the following:

I’m hardly a crusader for global MicroSoftening, but I have to challenge students to interrogate such readings rather than accepting them as is. To that end, I’ve gathered the following discussion questions which ask students to analyze the claims of these articles more deeply.

Related Discussion Topics
  • Look for facts versus speculation and opinions. What hard proof is there in the articles? Do the facts provide enough support to justify the conclusions that are drawn?
  • Look for the people, the readers and writers. How are people portrayed in the articles? What responsibilities do the people have for the issues that are outlined in the article?
  • Look for alarmist language. Are there places where PowerPoint is blamed for something? What exactly are the dangers of using the software if you believe the reports?
  • To what extent is software to blame, and to what extent has it to do with the way that software is used? Who is blamed in the article? Who is identified as responsible?
  • What would you recommend to someone who planned to create a PowerPoint presentation to ensure that it avoided the problems that many of these articles suggest are inherent in the program’s use?
  • And finally, for fun, what would have happened if PowerPoint had been around earlier? Share the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation with your class. Check out the Making of the Presentation as well. In addition to exploring how Norvig did his project, you might invite students to create their own PowerPoint versions of important speeches.